St. Louis-Area Colleges Plan For A Return To Mostly Normal Campus Life By Fall
Students will return to the quads and classrooms on university campuses across St. Louis this fall.
Colleges and universities are planning a relative normalcy in August after several semesters of distance learning, strict socialization rules, and minimal life on campus or events.
“Today we are optimistic that we will be better able to return to our campus in the summer and fall, offering curriculum and co-curriculum experiences that bring us much closer to pre-pandemic operations,” said Julian Schuster, President of Webster University. Last month .
With vaccinations expected to be widespread by the end of summer, schools say they will return to normal class sizes and events, but are unlikely to require vaccination of students to live in dormitories or attend classes.
Washington University Chancellor Andrew Martin said in a letter to campus late last month that while large lectures may still be virtual, most instructions will be personal. Regarding vaccines, Martin said, “It is possible that we may need the vaccine for a student, faculty, or staff member, depending on the availability of the vaccine.”
Wash U allows students to share dorms while still having more singles than they did before the pandemic. Maryville University used two hotels near its St. Louis County campus to distribute students this year, but will be moving all dormitory students back to dorms and dining rooms in August.
Announcements of fall plans coincided with the time high school graduates receive admission letters and submit deposits for enrollment.
“What do families think more about, will I live on campus?” said Maryville University Vice President, Student Life Nina Caldwell. “You are excited about the college experience. We are on our way to housing, but they are a little slow to react. I think they are still waiting for information. “
The University of Missouri locations in Rolla, Columbia and St. Louis are all planning normal fall operations. Mizzou will also be offering full-capacity courses and football matches in the fall, said system president Mun Choi.
Back to normal, or pretty close to it, is the mantra for St. Louis University and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, as well as smaller schools like Fontbonne and Lindenwood Universities. Some details will be worked out over the course of the summer, campus officials said, including whether and where students will still have to wear masks.
It is “likely” that Lindenwood students will have to wear masks in some spots on St. Charles campus this fall, university spokeswoman Julee Mitsler said, but the university will not require vaccines.
“We respect that it is a personal and medical decision, and it is something that should be decided individually,” Mitsler said.
About a dozen major colleges across the country, nearly half of which are in New York state, have required that students be vaccinated, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. One such requirement was a hot button issue this spring as some colleges have been the source of infection outbreaks.
No vaccinations are required at UM system sites, although students are encouraged to be vaccinated. Other schools are still debating whether they will need it. It is common practice for some colleges to require other shots before freshmen arrive on campus, such as the meningitis vaccine.
Closing campuses at the beginning of the pandemic and sending students home for hands-on study put a significant financial strain on colleges as they lost room and board income. Many have made efforts to maintain admissions and enrollment goals as students shy away from or delay the high cost of a partial college experience.
Last August, the region’s colleges opened only to a limited extent. Most of the courses were still virtual, the dorms were individually occupied, and socializing was not advised. SLU, Wash U, and SIUE also required that students be regularly tested for the coronavirus. Schools in the area have avoided major outbreaks.
Editor’s Note: St. Louis Public Radio is an editorially independent, not-for-profit service of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The UM system’s board of trustees owns its broadcasting license.
Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney